Personal Reminders: First priority? Marriage. Second priority? Kids.
A few years ago, my husband and I were at a wedding, sitting across from another couple who were attending the wedding sans kids. I was a few months pregnant then.
It was during our conversation with them that night where we received one of the most valuable pieces of advice we’ve ever received.
“Your kids need your marriage. Your marriage does not need your kids.”
My husband and I both agreed wholeheartedly that this advice lined up with our parenting philosophies of being a united front and solid role models to our future children, rather than letting them run our lives while our marriage ever-so-slowly fell apart. We were determined to live accordingly once our twins arrived.
Fast-forward to 1.5 years into twin parenthood.
I was lying in bed thinking about my relationship with my husband (or lack thereof) and came to the realization that the exact thing we were determined to avoid, had become our reality.
With him being in graduate school full-time for 3 years, us living far away from family, my having been through prenatal depression and continuing to experience postpartum anxiety, all the while trying to keep ourselves as well as our twins alive, we had become mere roommates, rather than a couple who were the loves of each other’s lives.
Where had the sweetness gone?
Where had the romance gone?
Where had the random post-it notes of love gone?
As I considered my feelings toward him, I realized that yes, I love my husband, sure, but I was no longer in love with him the way I used to be before we had kids.
So I told him.
I told him that the feelings I had (or lack thereof), were probably the result of us rarely doing the following:
1) Going to bed at the same time and chatting before we fell asleep like we used to, since he usually had to stay up late to study/do homework,
2) Having date nights because we’re too tired or busy or didn’t think to arrange for a babysitter in advance,
3) Having real and deep conversations due to one of us being too stressed/tired/anxious/annoyed, and
4) Hugging/cuddling/being intimate because of all of the above and due to my terrifying fear of getting pregnant again.
Then it dawned on me that we couldn’t possibly be the only parents who were experiencing this, but like so many other things in pregnancy, married-life, and parenting, nobody talks about the real, hard stuff.
How are we supposed to get help when we feel alone, ashamed, and like failures because it feels like our marriage is falling apart 1.5 years into parenthood?
How are we supposed to work through these difficulties when we can’t think of anyone else who has gone through the same thing and can truly empathize with us?
How are we supposed to rethink the way we live our lives when nobody we know opens up about their struggles and how they overcame them?
But on the flip side, how many people are reflective, open, and willing to be vulnerable enough to talk about all of this? How many years have to go by before couples suddenly realize that they spent so much time focused on their children that they no longer recognize who they married? I realized that this was one way couples drifted apart, and I was not okay with that. I did not and do not ever want to be mere roommates with my husband again.
With these thoughts swirling through my head, I hesitantly told my husband I felt like I needed him to date me again, which was actually an aha moment for me. I had always heard about the need to date your spouse but I never truly understood it until this point. (This was actually pretty difficult for me to express, because I rarely, if ever, tell people what I need.)
I am so grateful that he completely empathized and agreed with everything I expressed.
Since this conversation happened last year, my husband and I have planned and gone on a few date nights, definitely not as many as we’d like, but at the very least they have been small steps toward rekindling our love for each other.
Just from going on the first 2 date nights, we could already see and feel a change in our relationship from spending dedicated time together, away from the twins. We realize how important those times are and how the deep conversations we have during those times make such an impact on our marriage and parenting.
Moving forward, we hope to continue to be more deliberate in planning ahead and learning how to put our marriage first, no matter how exhausted or frustrated we may be in our current stage of life. In doing so, we strive to be balanced, united, and loving parents to our twins so that we are the best role models to them as they continue to grow from tiny little human beings into mature and responsible adults.
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